Biomedical Research

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Association of genetic polymorphisms of MERTK with multiple sclerosis among Jordanians

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease characterized by demyelination of nerve axons in the central nervous system (CNS) through inflammatory and degenerative processes. Both genetic and environmental factors play a role in disease development with unique distribution according to latitude and association of a number of genetic factors. Among the genetic factors associated with MS is the MER tyrosine kinase (MERTK) gene, which has a plethora of immune-related functions including regulation of phagocytosis. MERTK also functions in the process of myelination. Although a number of SNPs have been associated with MS, studies that analyze these SNPs are lacking. In this study, three SNPs (rs17174870, rs867311 and rs1516629) with strong linkage disequilibrium have been analyzed in connection to MS. The SNP variants in 200 MS patients and 200 healthy subjects were investigated using a simple method of DNA amplification followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism. Within the MERTK gene, only rs687311 had a significant association with the disease where the homozygous (GG) variant of the SNP was more prevalent among MS subjects in our population than the other genetic variants (p-value=0.004). These results suggest an association of MERTK with MS with, particularly, rs687311 as a potential genetic marker of the disease.

Author(s): Rand Zaza, Leena Ibayyan, Mohammed El-Khateeb, Yacoub G Bahou, Elham Khreisat, Wafa Al-Khateeb, Mamoun Ahram